Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls a la Aunt Angela

I had dinner recently at a new restaurant here in Northern California. The featured entrée was a stuffed cabbage roll, and I was very excited! This is one of my all time favorite braised dishes, and if done properly, there is nothing better. Well, it wasn’t. Unfortunately, it was probably the single worst entrée I’ve ever been served (and that’s saying something, since I estimate I’ve eaten out 6,725 times!). I won’t go into details about that meal (yet), but I will say that one of the small problems was that it came to the table WITH NO CABBAGE! I got a meatball, and it wasn’t even a good meatball. So, to purge myself of that horrible experience, I decided to make stuffed cabbage rolls. And, not just any cabbage rolls, my Aunt Angela’s cabbage rolls.

One of my earliest, and fondest, culinary memories was sitting as a young child at my Aunt’s kitchen table, watching her roll these stuffed cabbage leaves. Along with my Mom, Grandmother and Grandfather, my Aunt Angela and Uncle Bill (who’s been mentioned on the site a few times) were huge influences on my early culinary development. She is probably more famous for her amazing pies, but for me, when I think of her cooking, I think cabbage rolls. The only problem is, no matter how closely I follow the recipe hers still will always taste better. That’s just how home cooking is; the only ingredient you can’t add to a recipe list is that childhood memory.

Make sure you have a large Dutch oven with a tight fitting to make these. They need lots of room to braise. As you’ll see in the clip, I was really pushing it with the size pot I used. Of course you can vary this recipe many ways, by using different types and combinations of ground meats. Her original recipe just used all beef, but I added part veal to mine. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 10 large or 20 small rolls
1 large green cabbage
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground veal
3/4 cup raw white long grain rice
1 stick butter
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 yellow onion
1 egg
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 quart beef broth (or water)
1 cup water
1 can crushed tomatoes (28oz)
*Should cook for 2 hours at 350 degrees F., but check after an hour and add more water if they seem to dry)

81 comments:

foofifofum said...

One of the fun things to share with others is recipes and restaurant reviews, but you are too funny! Where were you served a cabbage roll that was really a ball, and which didn't even have any cabbage? Are you sure is wasn't just an early April Fool's joke? I hope you got your money back! It would be fun to have a restuarant review on your site. After all - there's nothing like going out for a great meal, and nothing worse than paying for a terrible one!

Chef John said...

Yes,completely true!! Cabbage-free cabbage rolls! I didnt pay for the dinner, but I did sent a nice long email to the restaurant explaining the problems we had. If I dont hear from them, I will post a review of this bistro, and it wont be a good one. The whole meal was an excersize in how NOT to run a restaurant. But, it is a new place and I will give them a chance to reply before I crush their dreams.

faithinabove said...

Chef John,
Could I make the cabbage rolls up ahead of time and freeze them?

Gulfdiver said...

This is definatley one of those recipes that are MUCH better the second day.. if you can make this a day in advance and reheat it the next day.. it will taste MUCH better.. I love making cabbage rolls/pigeons/golumpki (whatever you know it as)

Also.. you may want to try mixing about 2 large cans of tomatoe sauce (plain tomatoe sauce) with about 1/2 cup brown suger and salt and pepper to taste in place of the water.. Makes an awsome gravy.. (might have to add a lil water for rice to fully cook tho)

Thanks for this yummy looking alternative! I'll def. try it.!

Chef John said...

Yes, my mom does make and freeze them. They turn out fine once reheated. Also, I agree, these are great the next day, but I can never wait!

Gulfdiver said...

Turn out "fine"??? They are like love in a leaf when reheated!!! The beef and pork meld so nicely with all the lovely flavors... sorry.. I get a little passionate about my cabbage.. it's the one dish that I think I make really well :) besides toast and hot water!

Chef John said...

mmmmmm...toast and hot water.

Brian S. said...

Chef John-

These look amazing man. I'm pretty excited to try them out. They remind me of stuffed cabbage rolls I ate a lot in East Europe...I've been looking for a similar recipe for a while. Thanks for your hard work and great site! Much appreciated.

Brian S.
persianczar@frontier.net

Frostyballs said...

I used red wine instead of the water and dish came out great!
I use red wine in all my tomatoe base dishes.
Red wine is especially good in CHILE!!
Keep up the great work John,

John Frost

Chef John said...

sounds great.

Anonymous said...

What do you serve with the Cabbage Rolls? I haven't made them in many years. While looking for a good recipe for them I came across yours and one from Tyler Florence (Galumpkis). The only two I was interested in trying, and I'm going to try them both.
Thanks,
Victoria

Chef John said...

I've always considered them a one-dish meal. Starch, meat, veg and sauce all in one neat package. And always some bread to soak up the juice.

Teresa said...

I never in a million years would have thought that I'm capable of making cabbage rolls. I made these last night and they're amazing. Even better reheated, as the above poster mentioned.

Thanks so much for sharing your recipe and your videos.

Anonymous said...

I do not own a Dutch Oven, is there a substitue that can be used? If not or I guess either way, what size is a 'large' Dutch Oven.
Thanks, and I love your website!
Kathy

Chef John said...

A lg Duthc oven is like 7 to 9 quarts in size i would say. You can use anything that is deep enough to fit the rolls and has a lid.

Chef John said...

A lg Duthc oven is like 7 to 9 quarts in size i would say. You can use anything that is deep enough to fit the rolls and has a lid.

Mexrick said...

Just found your site and will now be a regular. One comment on the cabbage rolls list of ingredients. You left out the egg. I'm making them tomorrow. It's been YEARS since I've had them.

Anonymous said...

Can you make them on the stovetop? Can you just simmer them for an hour there?

Chef John said...

some do. I think oven does a better job.

Pixie4199 said...

This will be the third time I am making this. I watch the video for a refresher! My husband's mom made this when he was little. She died when he was 16. He always "requested" cabbage rolls and talked about his mom's. I resisted...I mean how can you live up to MOM'S CABBAGE ROLLS!!! Well, guess what, HE LOVES THEM. He requested them again this weekend for his birthday dinner. Your recipe is a HUGE success in this house! Thank you!

Pixie4199 said...

One more comment, I make them in the crock pot b/c we do not have a dutch oven and my stove is OLD. They are fabulous! I cook them on low 7 - 9 hours or high 4 - 5 hours.

Chef John said...

Thanks for the note. I'm glad they are a source of pleasure and a culinary connection to his Mom. Also, thanks for the crock pot tip.

Pixie4199 said...

One more from me!

My one year old twins gobbled it down today, even with the cayenne zing. And I made a double batch for hubby...I had them cooking overnight and he had his first one at 7 a.m. He has been eating ALL day and I don't think there will be any leftovers!!!!!!!!!!!

Chef John said...

you have a lucky family!

pegschr said...

By far the one of the best recipies I have tried, and I thought mine was the best:)

Anonymous said...

wow, this is an awesome recipe..made this and just loved it. Wondered about the melted butter in it, but put it in anyway. Followed the recipe and so glad I did. Absolutely delicious. I urge anyone looking for a recipe for cabbage rolls to try this one. You will be delighted.......

Rebrites@yahoo.com said...

you can also substitute some Spanish sweet paprika for the cayenne. It gives the nice red color and a lovely smoky flavor without the sharpness.

Lovely recipe, thank you!

echairz said...

What do you think about this recipe using ground turkey and olive oil instead of the butter?

Chef John said...

sure, give it a try!

Sidra said...

This is a great recipe and the first I ever tried. A nice and easy way to soften to the cabbage is to actually FREEZE the whole head, then after it's thawed the leaves peel right off like the whole thing was boiled. Let's the freezer do lots of the work for you!

Chef John said...

great tip!

Scrapping Mom of 5 said...

We got a head of cabbage in our Angel Food this month and it brought to mind the cabbage rolls my ex's grandma used to make. We stayed close and was sad to loose her. I was trying to find a recipe that matched hers. This one is not exactly the same as she simmered stove top and I don't remember tomato sauce but this look pretty close and I will be giving it try this evening.

Clashboard said...

I used to work next to a deli in downtown san francisco and the lady who prepared the food was russian. She had daily specials and I always looked forward to tuesday because she made awesome cabbage rolls.

Today I had a craving for them and found your recipe... I just finished eating three rolls and they rocked!

The recipe was perfect. And your method for preparing the cabbage head was super smart and easy. This definitely had a different taste compared to the russian lady who made the sauce sweeter and thicker. Like you said, every culture has their own method and now I'm a fan of russian and italian cabbage rolls =)

Thanks for sharing.

Chef John said...

thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the recipe.I'm not much of a cook and one of my fiance's favorite dishes is stuffed cabbage rolls.I began a search for a recipe, but anyone who had a good one said it was a family secret and would not share.I searched the internet for a recipe and found yours on youtube.I made them for valentines day and they were a huge hit.I even made some vegaterian ones with morningstar crumbles for myself.Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Chef, In the video you state there is a secret ingredient, (look like bread crumbs), but I couldn't find it in your ingredient list. Can you tell me what it is? Thank you. I'm cooking them now for my wife, I hope she likes them. :)

Chef John said...

no secrets, everything is listed. enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I made these cabbage rolls, they were wonderful. I did encounter one messy problem, I only had about a 4 1/2 qt cast iron pot and as one would expect it bubbled over. But knowing in advance this was a likely happening I was ready with foil to catch the over flow. My wife says that these are for sure a regular item at our house. So I had better get a bigger pot. would a 6 1/2 quart be large enough? Thanks for the wonderful cabbage rolls.

Chef John said...

Mine is a 9 qt, but the 6 1/2 should work. The bigger the better.

nannabells said...

I wanted to thank you for sharing this menu. My 2 year old son loves this and I am happy to make him and my husband healthy options with veggies. (I did change the meat and used ground turkey with some olive oil - not big on red meat)

Thank you,

Shannon

booka62 said...

Wowee!! Great recipe! My Dad used to make these when we were young! It was great to taste them again. Mom, sister and brother-in-law all raved over them. Will be making this dish again!

Thanks, Angela, for your lovely recipe!

Anilah said...

Wow... I'm so happy I stumbled across this page when looking for a way to make stuffed cabbage. I have not had stuffed cabbage in a long time, and I remember loving it, but truth be told I don't think I ever enjoyed it this much. Thank you. I will be returning to your blog. :)

Eliza said...

In Romania, these are called "sarmale" and are made with pickled cabbage/vine leaves for an extra zing. We cook them in a Roman pot and serve them with sour cream on the side. Because they're so traditional and everyone has expectations regarding the taste, i never thought i'd get up the nerve to make them. You know what? I do believe i'm going to take on the monster and try your recipe. Fingers crossed!

Julia said...

Can these be simmered on the stovetop instead of cooked inside the oven? I don't have a Dutch oven large enough, nor do I want to use 2 baking dishes. Thanks!!

Chef John said...

No, sorry, they have to bake.

Anonymous said...

love the rolls planning them for superbowl this year GO STEELERS..

Steven said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petiole

Petiole (botany), the stalk of a leaf, attaching the blade to the stem

Anonymous said...

you mention secret ingredients in your video but I didn't see it on list. What is it?

Chef John said...

all the ing. are listed here. no secrets!

Anonymous said...

I recently harvested around 20 heads of cabbage, my husband plants everything from seed, and we had had a bounty of organic vegetables from our winter garden. I wanted to surprise him and make a traditional meal for all his hard work. I googled cabbage rolls and found your you tube video. Wow how easy it was and it was yummy. I used ground turkey meat instead of beef and pork. My question to you is I would like to omit the melted butter to keep the calories down what do you suggest as a replacement? Thanks for your comment

Chef John said...

Sorry there is no sub for butter! do NOT use margarine (for anything), its the same calories. :-)

Anonymous said...

When you replaced the water with the tomato sauce and brown sugar do you STILL use the beef broth or no? this sounds sooo yummy i am making it tomorrow for dinner =)

Darinka said...

I'VE BEEN COOKING CABBAGE ROLLS SINCE I WAS 14, (IN CROATIA YOU HAVE TO LEARN YOUNG) THE WAY YOU DO. SINCE I STARTED WORKING I TRIED COOKING THEM IN SLOW COOKER, AND DEAR JOHN, THEY CAME OUT AS PERFECT AS BACKED IN THE OVEN. I JUST WANTED TO LET ALL THE BUSSY MUMS OUT THERE KNOW THAT YOU CAN PREPARE THEM AT NIGHT AND TURN THEM ON BEFORE YOU GO TO WORK AND WHEN YOU GET HOME, WOLAH, THEY'RE READY TO EAT, I USE MASHED PATATOES AS SIDE DISH

Anonymous said...

Just found your site. Came across your cabbage rolls. My Husband is European. And they know how to cook:) I've been following my In-Laws cabbage rolls recipe for over 30 years. However, I'm about to try yours. Can you not cook the rice and onions first? Then add them to the beef mixture?

Thank You:)

Chef John said...

never tried it that way, so i don't know. if you cook rice first it doesn't absorb as much flavor.

Anonymous said...

Point taken. I will try this recipe to the "T"

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I made these cabbage rolls last year, and they were a huge hit. They were the best I have ever had and once you make them you will never use another recipe but this one.. I am making them next week for a few families that enjoyed them last year. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I tried this recipe today and it turned out wonderful. Thank you for this lovely recipe.

florentina said...

We use sauerkraut or vine leaves, and dill ....
and eat with polenta, pickled peppers, sour cream ...

Anonymous said...

My neighbor brings cabbage rolls to our house for dinner all of the time. She puts sausage links in hers and my husband loves and brags about them. I decided to try this recipe including the sausage (kielbasa). Husband loves it and so do I. Now I will be making this dish again tomorrow with her sausage and take it to her house. I now know that I will have big time braggng rights. Thanks Chef...lol

Cârtiţoiu` said...

Back home, in Romania, we use thyme and bay leaf for seasoning and sauerkraut instead of plain cabbage leafs. Your recipe is a bit different from what we know, but sounds delicious all the same.

shirley ann schwarzer said...

I just found this site today, & I luv Chef John's recipes, cabbage rolls r one of my favourites, & Chef John explains everything so well. I will try this recipe soon. Thx.

Kim said...

Al Amir Restaurant in Portland, OR had the best cabbage rolls in the world....

foodie65 said...

This is the first time I have commented on a recipe and I spend hours on food websites. I am recently retired so now I am taking time to cook really good meals! This was perhaps one of my best meals I have made (opinion of my husband as well). The cabbage rolls were wonderful. I followed the recipe and had so much fun creating the rolls! Thanks! I will be checking in daily!

Peg said...

It's me again! ha ha...I almost said, "Once again, Chef John, you have made me look like I know what I'm doing"...but I thought about it, and after all of the recipes of yours I've tried and almost all of your videos that I've watched - I actually am starting to feel like I am starting to know what I'm doing! My mom made cabbage rolls growing up and I've never tried to make them. These turned out AMAZING! My dutch oven wasn't deep enough to totally submerge the top layer of rolls but they still turned out good anyway.I can't tell you how much learning from you means to me. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise!

Chef John said...

My pleasure!

cathy said...

This recipe is great, I am going to make them tonight, just in time for st. Pattys DaY! Thank You!

Rivermute said...

Amazing recipe!! I have made this quite a few times since the original post and have yet to have anyone doubt that they are the best. Recently I had to cook for a fundraiser and was asked to make these (don't think people realize how much work they are). Quadrupled the recipe and used two large deep lasagna pans. Since there was no lid I used an old polish granny trick and sealed the top with a layer of cabbage leaves. Turned out great. Some of the top leaves will get a slight scorch but can be discarded.

foodie65 said...

I have made these 3 times now. We had a few cabbages from the garden, so I made the rolls and froze them. The first batch we ate and absolutely loved them. But, won't that be great to have them next winter as well. I am new to this website so I am wondering if there is a written version of the recipe. I watch the video each time and have found the written ingredients but not the instructions. Am I doing something wrong?

Chef John said...

You didn't miss anything! The videos are the instructions. :)

Gary Long said...

My rice didn't cook all the way

Anonymous said...

If your rice didn't cook all the way you didn't follow the directions exactly. These are better than anything, and taste even better the next day.

Ken said...

Mmmm! I call cabbage rolls and pirogies “Polish soul food”. The video motivated me to make these again. They were delicious!!! But I couldn’t taste the butter, and my family’s Slovak recipe (which was very close) never used it. I know you don’t mess with Aunt Angela’s (or Grandma’s) recipe, but… I don’t think it’s really necessary. Thanks for the video.

Sam Abbasi said...

Thanks for the video Chef john, I'm a big fan. I tried this recipe last night, and for some reason the rice didn't cook through all the way and I'm wondering what I did wrong. I was very vigilant about making sure there was liquid covering the rolls entirely. I was sharing the oven with the roommates roasting veggies...could this be the problem?

Thanks

Sam

Chef John said...

You didn't do anything wrong except not keep cooking it! If the rice is not cooked just add a little more liquid and keep cooking until tender. Times for this kind of thing can really vary. You have to test before removing from oven. Thanks!

Aishen said...

Going to try these out for my in laws tonight... Fingers crossed. Instead of all beef i'm using a mix of mince and a lil shrimp. :) I'll post the outcome. Can't wait!
I'd like to add for any new people that whenever i watch and follow Chef John's recipes, they always come out delicious! Trust his recipes.. and most importantly, follow them correctly! :P

Michele Cryan said...

I made these a while ago and was a bit disappointed. Mine came out dry, or what my mom would say was "dense". Still pretty good but I think I'll try and adding some crushed tomatoes to the mixed meat before rolling. or maybe stock? I also packed them in really tightly because I wanted to use my high-quality Dutch oven which was too small. My other pan is a roasting pan with a lid and it's massive. I feel like Goldie Locks but with only the first two options!

Chef John said...

There's your answer! You can't press them in too tight, or they have no place to expand, and won't cook right. Make fewer, or use a bigger pan!

Aleesha Orr said...

I'm kinda confused with the directions. In your video it says cook for 1 hour, and in the directions here on the blog it says 2 hours. Which one is it? o.O

Chef John said...

It says cook for 1 hour and then check! Then you continue cooking until done, about 2 hr total. Listen again and you will hear it.

Aleesha Orr said...

Ah I see! XD. I ended up cooking it for 1 hour, then added some water, then cooked it for another 30 minutes to be in between just in case, and it turned out perfectly. Thank you for the delicious recipe!